When you are involved in a car accident, you will most likely be dealing with car insurance claims, claims adjusters from your insurance provider, and car accident repair shops to fix your car.If you are dealing with a minor fender bender and no major damage, you may not even see the need to file a claim with your insurance company. Instead, you may just opt to repair the minor damage yourself, especially if your car deductible is way more than what a mechanic charges you to repair the dents.
But if the damage to your car is significant, either your insurance company or the at-fault’s insurance company will be responsible for paying for the repair.
Typically, you will be required to file a claim with your insurance company. They will then assess the damage to your car, produce an estimate, and most probably suggest a local shop where the vehicle will be repaired.
In other instances, the insurance provider will cut you a check so you can pay for the repair yourself. So, what happens if you have already filed a claim but want to repair it on your own to save some little money? Is it possible?
Here is everything you need to know about repairing your own car after filing a claim with your auto insurance provider.
Understanding Car Accident Repair Costs and the Value of Your Car
Your insurance company is only required to pay damages up to a predetermined value of your car. If you have already received a repair estimate and it looks like the repair cost exceeds the value of your vehicle, the insurance company will most likely declare it a total loss, pay you the current market value, and possess the car.
Keep in mind that with any type of property damage claim, the exact amount of the claim is usually based on the property’s value at the time of the accident. Therefore, the value of your claim will have nothing to do with the original price you paid for the car.
Furthermore, you must keep in mind that whatever insurance provider ends up bearing the cost of repairing your car, it will only pay up to your policy limits.
For instance, if the other motorist was at fault and caused $10,000 worth of damage to your car but only has $4,000 of property damage coverage, the insurance company will only pay $4,000 towards your repair cost.
There Is A Lien On The Car or I Still Owe Money On It
The people who are allowed to repair your car may be determined by who holds the car’s title. If it isn’t you, then you don’t have the final say. If you are still making payments on the vehicle and there is a lien on it, chances are you may not be allowed to get the car fixed on your own.
In such a case, the lender is the genuine lien holder, and it is their property that is on the line. Some lien holders will not want to leave repairs to someone they don’t trust or someone without a reputable repair shop.
Even though you may have the best intentions, the lien holder, has no idea if you are fully capable of handling the repairs.
Although the insurance company may not demand that you use a specific auto repair shop, the lien holder may be adamant that the car can only be repaired in a particular place.
So, before you start planning on repairing the vehicle on your own, pull out the loan agreement and read about the specific conditions that apply to accidents and repairs to your car.
Your lien holder may have clarified the specific auto repair shops where the car can get fixed if it is damaged in any way. The bottom line is that you don’t own the car, so you don’t have the final say.
I Own The Car Outright
If you own the car outright and you aren’t making any payments on it, then you have a bit of flexibility in deciding where you want it repaired. Things are easier because you have no one to answer to.
However, you still need to work closely with your insurance company to ensure you don’t invalidate your coverage. Once you get the insurance payout, you can have your car fixed at an authorized dealer shop, fix it yourself, have your brother/sister fix it, or not fix it at all.
The only thing you need to do is ensure you follow all the stipulations so that you don’t void your coverage. If you don’t fix the damage accordingly and it results in something bigger, your insurance company may decline to cover the additional damage.
Even if you want to repair your vehicle on your own, you may still find it helpful to have your insurance adjuster look at the car before and after the repair is done. Your insurance adjuster can still provide you with an estimate before any work is done on the vehicle.
99% of the time, the insurance company will insist on an insurance adjuster looking at your car even if you want to fix it yourself.
Having an adjuster inspect the car before the repair is vital because you and the insurance company will have a solid and reliable idea as to what the settlement of the car damages will be, which helps to avoid miscommunication or misunderstandings.
If the repair doesn’t work out, the cost of any additional or remedial repairs will come out of your pocket and not the insurance company. So, if you are questioning your ability to repair the car effectively, be sure to use a certified and approved body shop tech.
What If I Am At Fault for a Car Accident That Caused the Damage?
If you caused your own car’s damage by running into a tree or fence, then you will be forced to pay for the damage out-of-pocket or make a claim against your own policy’s collision coverage if you carry one.
If the damage isn’t so extensive, you probably don’t want to make any claim against your own auto insurance policy since it may lead to an increase on your auto insurance premium, costing you more money in the long run.
What If I Disagree With My Insurance Company about Repair Costs?
If you don’t like the estimate by the insurance adjuster, the only option you have left is either to accept what is being offered or file a lawsuit against the insurance company.
If you find yourself in a dispute with your auto insurance provider where a significant amount of money is at stake, it is critical to talk to an experienced car accident attorney to ensure your rights and interests are adequately protected.